Chicago Cubs: Jon Lester off to his best start in years this spring

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Little did we know: it marked the start of an era

When Jon Lester took the ball for the Chicago Cubs on Opening Night 2015, I felt the hype in Wrigleyville. To be honest, I’d never felt the ballpark that way. Joe Maddon managing his first game on the North Side, the rival Cardinals in town. Aside from the result (a St. Louis win) and the unfinished bleachers, it was a memorable experience.

But Lester had struggled in his first taste of Cactus League action the month prior. After training in Florida for his entire career with the Red Sox, he made the jump to Arizona after inking his deal with Chicago. And it was a bit of a ride, if we’re being honest.

He pitched just 8 1/3 innings that spring and opponents hit .333 against him. The young, unproven Cubs no doubt expected more. But Lester had gotten off to a slow start – not exactly something new for the veteran.

But as he settled in, things improved. After a horrendous April, he cruised through May. He struggled again in June, then turned it on for July. From August (5.04 ERA) to September (2.36 ERA), he cut his earned run average in half, helping lead Chicago to its first postseason appearance since 2008.